Dr Jacqueline Boyd
BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD, PGCHE, CHES, FHEA, MRSB
In-house Nutritional Consultant
In this series, we have explored some of the key points about managing weight. It’s a sad fact of life that often the best diet in the world fails when “normal” habits are adopted. This is why it is so important in any weight management strategy, to identify and implement habits and strategies that are sustainable, adoptable and can easily be integrated into everyday life. For our dogs, that means those habits must fit with them, their needs, our lifestyles and everyone in the household needs to be involved too! Too often I hear the words “he’s/she’s the meanie and never gives the dog treats” or “I secretly sneak him extra food when no-ones watching as I feel sorry for him” and many other variations. While short-term this might seem nice, for the ongoing health and welfare of the dog (not to mention a harmonious household!), it’s certainly less than ideal.
So, here are Skinner’s Pet Foods top tips to make those weight management resolutions stick, so that you and your dog can look forward to a healthier and happier 2019!
- Measure and monitor – this means, weigh your dog’s food AND weigh your dog! This way you can control input based on your dog’s condition and make any necessary changes in a timely manner.
- Move! – put simply, physical activity is output and will result in calories being burned. Find activities that you and your dog enjoy, do them regularly and you’ll both reap the rewards. Remember that shorter but regular “power walks” where you are both starting to breathe harder than at rest will be burning more calories and building strength and condition than longer, more irregular gentle ambles!
- Manage calories in – consider looking at a specially formulated and produced foodstuff where the fat content is reduced, such as Field & Trial Light & Senior. This can be a really easy lifestyle change that can dramatically reduce the overall calorie intake, without impacting on the intake of other key nutrients!
- Make it possible! – start small and achievable. Perhaps in week one set a target of a 15-minute power walk twice a day and then review how it felt at the end of the week. Planning will help, especially for those early morning walks but it’s amazing how little changes gradually have HUGE impacts!
- Make friends – see if there are neighbours or friends who will join you and your dog. Even consider setting up a local social media group with similar people to share ideas and experiences as well as successes!
- Make sure everyone is on the same page – in the household, it’s important that everyone joins in and appreciates the value and importance of the weight management strategy. It’s only fair on Fido to have consistency and the results will be seen much earlier, meaning everyone can share the success!
- Munchies can be healthy – we all love to treat and reward our dogs but choose low calorie treats or even just use your dog’s normal food as treats! Alternatively use vegetables such as carrot sticks or cucumber chunks as alternative, healthy treats. My own spaniels love lots of veggies and they are a great way of treating your dog without filling them full of calories.
- Mindfulness can help – live in the moment and don’t think too far ahead. Monitor weekly and record those small changes. If one week there is a blip, don’t beat yourself up, you and your dog can start afresh the next day or even week with renewed vigour and a positive outlook!
If you are trying to put some of the advice from this series of articles into practice, we at Skinner’s would love to hear about it! Don’t forget to share your experiences and successes with us via our social media channels and if you’d like free, friendly and experienced nutritional advice, we are more than happy to help you.